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take his knife and detach the arm at the shoulderjoint, in order that the party might carry it away to the mansion to examine into the character of the fracture, with a view to ascertain whether the mutilation had been caused by a pistol-bullet, or whether the hand had been amputated by the surgeon. It being well known that Hampden's death was occasioned by this wound, received on Chalgrave field, the question was, had he died of mortification consequent on the injury, or had the hand been removed, and some other mortal process such as fever, or perhaps lockjaw, supervened ?
I pass over the apologetic explanations which, as I perfectly recollect, accompanied Lord Nugent's recital of the transaction. The question which his Lord. ship appeared so anxious to clear up, seems to me at this date, as it seemed to me in 1828, wholly without historical interest in itself, and as affording not the slightest excuse for invading, after a lapse of near two centuries, the sanctity of the tomb. So thought, indeed, on reflection, the humble instrument of the sacrilege.
He proceeded to execute the order to separate the arm from the trunk (not without difficulty, he said), and it was then taken to the house, there to be more closely inspected. But as the day was closing in before these sad operations had been completed, there remained not light enough whereby to replace the hand in the coffin and restore this to its original position beneath.
Accordingly, the body (of which the frame still held together, sustained as it was by the cerecloth) was left in the coffin, on the floor of the chance of
the church, propped up in a sitting posture, by means of the sexton's shovel; the doors were locked, and all retired to their homes for the night.
As the sexton walked back over the fields to his cottage his feelings were painfully awakened to a consciousness that he had done disrespect to a great yore.
"I was so grieved with myself,” said this simple-hearted rustic, “ that I took and heaved away the clasp-knife as done it among a lot of furze bushes, so as I might never set eyes on the knife more.”
At early dawn on the morrow, the parish clerk and the sexton repaired to the church, into which, so soon as the doors were unfastened, there stole quietly a few of the poor working folk who lived near, chiefly women, the men being understood to go to work by six o'clock. They came to obtain a look at the unusual spectacle of an exhumed corpse, with a sort of vague curiosity, prompted by the instinct which even in ignorant minds invests antiquity with a reverent interest.
I inquired of the sexton whether he had observed any of the women cutting the hair off the head of the body on the morning in question. “Yes,” he answered, " there were one or two whom I saw doing so." I told him I had obtained a small parcel of hair from the woman at the roadside alehouse. “Did he believe her to be one of those ?” “Very likely,” said the sexton; "she was here, I do remember, But do you set any store by the hair, madam? because if you do, I can let you have some which I myself cut off Mr. Hampden's head that same morning.”
“I wish you would go and bring it me," I exclaimed. Accordingly, as we had ended our visit to the church, the man returned to his dwelling, and, in half-an-hour, brought me back a piece of paper containing a portion of hair. On comparing it with that which the good woman had previously given me I found it exactly similar in every point.
Persuaded of the identity of my relics, I afterwards caused locks of this hair to be inserted into three or four gold rings, and pins, of which I gave away several to persons who shared my interest in the history of John Hampden, and whom I myself esteemed and admired. Lady Theresa Lewis was of this number, and the gift was accompanied by the lines which follow. I need hardly remind the reader that her ladyship had published a work entitled, " Lives of the Contemporaries of Lord Clarendon," wherein the events of the civil war, and the conduct of the leading men on both sides, are passed in review with a feeling and conscientious style of treatment.
OBIT. NOV. 1847.
Felix MENDELSSOHN BARTHOLDY paid us a visit at our residence adjoining “ Burnham Beeches,” in the summer of 1847. Some of his intimate friends were also our guests, and he appeared to enjoy this brief holiday with almost youthful relish. After wandering about, one day, in the old forest-like glades till he was well nigh tired with walking, he laid himself down on a green mossy bank, and listened to the sighing of the breeze overhead, blending itself with the many small sounds incident to woodland scenery, till he seemed absorbed in thought. After some little time passed in silence, he said, "I think I could set all this to music!"
In memory of this illustrious man's visit, I caused a stone to be placed on the spot, and planted flowers and shrubs around: even protecting the stone by an iron railing. In vain! the boys of the hamlet, with a horror of vacuity which seems to be common to both man and animal, amused themselves on Sundays, for want of better pastime, with defacing the lines on the stone, * and breaking off the willow and cypress twigs. I could not make head against such enemies, and after a year or two removed my humble memorial in despair.
* Consisting of the third, fourth, and fifth stanzas.